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The Third Option: Covert Action and American Foreign Policy

 

The Third Option: Covert Action and American Foreign Policy

PDF, 2022

Loch K. Johnson

ISBN: 0197604412, 978-0197604410, 9780197604410, B09KS3SL36

 

The three major instruments that guide United States foreign policy are the Treaty Power, the War Power, and the Spy Power. Within the category of Spy Power is the "Third Option" the use of covert action. Ever since the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947, the US has often turned to the third option in the conduct of its international relations. This controversial approach includes covert propaganda campaigns, subversive political activities, economic sabotage, and paramilitary operations ranging from clandestine warfare to the assassination of foreign leaders. From the beginning of the Cold War to the present day, America's intelligence and national security agencies have employed all of these "third option" tools in order to advance America's global interests.

In The Third Option, the eminent national security scholar Loch Johnson provides a history of American covert warfare from 1947 to the present. In particular, he focuses on the morality and consequences of America's heavily veiled attempts to shape global affairs through its covert actions. Over the course of the book, a fundamental question comes into focus: Of what value has the Third Option been to the US as a complement to the nation's more open battlefield and diplomatic initiatives? Just as importantly, Johnson exposes the conflict between this controversial approach to achieving America's international objectives and the ideals that the US has always propounded: democracy, human rights, and liberalism. The Third Option closes with a sharp assessment of the policy, measuring its failures versus its successes. A richly detailed synthesis of America's covert action program ever since it became the world's preeminent power, this book serves as an ideal introduction for anyone interested in US foreign and national security policy.

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